The Avocado Paradox

Almost three years after the beginning of the restriction of avocado imports from Mexico, citing supposed phytosanitary issues, the Solis administration is now promoting exports of Costa Rican varieties of the fruit, while the local market suffers from shortages.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock announced with great fanfare that it has started an advice giving program to a group of Hass avocado producers in Tarrazú, so that they can start to export the fruit to European countries.

Although this government action is well intentioned, and focuses on local producers accessing new markets, it is still contradictory in the context of the Hass avocado blockade from Mexico.

Randall Benavides, from the Chamber of Exporters and Importers of Perishable Products, told Crhoy.com: "... "It is a good effort by national producers, but the MAG should be more concerned about the national market. We have a collapsed market: it is more expensive to buy a kilo of avocado than a kilo of steak and smuggling has increased."

In addition, there are doubts about the export quality of local avocados. In Benavidez's opinion,   "... national production is still very incipient and has many deficiencies in quality. In his experience, up to 30% of national Hass avocados have to be thrown away. "Meanwhile, a box of Mexican avocados costs $15, but in Costa Rica we have to buy Chileans boxes for $38; all because of a restriction that lacks a scientific basis," said Benavides."



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More on this topic

Costa Rica: Conditions to Import Mexican Avocados

November 2017

Hass avocados from Mexico can be imported in containers, provided that they come certified as fruit containers that are free from the sunspot disease or from areas certified as free.

The proposal put forward by the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) to the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures at the WTO, where the conflict between Costa Rica and Mexico is being resolved, establishes that the fruit may be imported in any of three circumstances: the fruit is sent with a certificate that guarantees that it does not have sunspot, with a certificate that comes from areas free of the disease, or where there is compliance with rules agreed bilaterally by the two countries.

Avocado and the High Cost of Protectionism

February 2017

In Costa Rica since the government suspended imports of Mexican avocados in May 2014, the average wholesale price of the fruit went up by 19% in 2015 and 16% last year.

Since the country stopped the imports of mexican avocados because of the alleged presence of the sunblotch plague, the price of this fruit in the local market has kept on rising. Although avocados are now imported from seven different countries, total imports have fallen 25% since then, and the average price has recorded since then an annual increase of 18%.

Costa Rica: Disguised Protection of Local Avocados

September 2016

The delay in phytosanitation studies by the Ministry of Agriculture has stalled the process for starting imports of avocados from the Dominican Republic.

Even though it has been a month since the Chamber of Exporters and Importers of Perishable Goods asked to be able to start the process of importing avocados from the Caribbean island, a delay in carrying out a study on the part of the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) has prevented this from happening.

Costa Rica: A Year Without Mexican Avocados

May 2016

As expected after any government intervention in a market, the price consumers pay for the product has increased and a black market has been created, encouraging smuggling.

And the Costa Rican State itself risks having to pay millions in compensation for convictions for failing to comply with the procedures established by the WTO after blocking imports of avocados from Mexico.

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